A year after its implementation, students and parents from the economically weaker sections of society are still finding it tough to use the Right to Education Act (RTE) effectively. Instances of alleged expulsion, mental harassment and misbehaviour have been reported by students and parents from different corners of the city against some private un-aided schools.
In one incident, a Class III student, Sidhartha (name changed), an economically weaker section child, was allegedly expelled by the Himalaya International School in Rohini on September 2 without giving any prior notification to his parents. On approaching the school authorities, Principal Meenakshi Gupta said, "Sidhartha has not been expelled because he belongs to an economically weaker section but it was his misbehavior that forced us to take this decision."
Though Sidhartha's parents sought a written explanation for the child's expulsion, Gupta denied receiving any such communication from the parents and said, "We will take a decision once we discuss this issue with the chairman of school's managing committee." Sidhartha has already missed his mid-term exams.
There are other such incidents being reported by parents to the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) for flouting the RTE norms. According to a complainant, in St Andrews Scots Senior Secondary School, Patparganj, the collars of the shirts for economically weaker students were marked with FS (which indicates Freeship), their homework copies were unchecked and they were asked to sit in a separate room.
Probing into it, a team of DCPCR revealed that schools conduct remedial (counseling) classes for such students to acquaint them with the school's system. After spending an hour there, they join their respective classes. "We found that the teacher who takes the remedial classes is well versed only in Hindi since she replied in Hindi and has a designation of transport in-charge. The school commented that the FS mark was meant for identification by teachers," said a DCPCR official. "Later it was stated by the school that it has discontinued the practice," the official said.
A group of parents also approached DCPCR regarding the alleged demand of money from economically weaker students in Greenfields Public School, Vivek Vihar, despite a provision for free education under the RTE.
Since its inception in 2010, DCPCR has received 13,464 complaints out of which 149 are about denial of benefits for EWS category students, 10,985 are for denial of admissions, 74 cases of mental harassment, 34 cases on schools demanding capitation fee and so on.
Commenting on the issue, DCPCR secretary, XK Mahto said, "Under any circumstances, a child from all categories under 14 years of age cannot be expelled or denied education by any academic institution as mentioned in clause 12(1)c of the RTE Act. The commission makes recommendations in this regard and works in tandem with the department of education." He added that strong action will be taken against schools if allegations of violation of RTE are found true.
Secretary, Directorate of Education, Delhi government, Rakesh Mohan, said, "The government is committed to implement RTE in letter and spirit. Any violation in context of elementary education will not be entertained and schools must comply with the Act's norms."